It wasn't all bad...

The week's good news: April 9, 2020

Catherine Garcia
Clouded leopard kittens.
Ron Magill/ZooMiami via AP


Miami zoo welcomes two clouded leopard kittens

A pair of clouded leopard kittens, the two newest residents of Zoo Miami, made their social media debut on Tuesday. The kittens — a boy and a girl — were born on February 11, but the zoo didn't announce the births until almost a month later because they were secluded in a den with their mother Serai. This was done to ensure they weren't under any "external stress" and were able to bond, the zoo said. Photos of the brother and sister were shared online by the zoo's communications director, who said they are "growing and thriving." The kittens have now received their first vaccines, CBS News reports, and are "developing well." In the wild, clouded leopards live in forests in southeast Asia, and are considered vulnerable due to poaching and habitat loss. [CBS News]


Anonymous donor buys $150 in gift cards for Iowa town residents

Every household in Earlham, Iowa — all 549 of them — just received a gift that no one was expecting. On March 26, Mayor Jeff Lillie received a phone call from a man calling on behalf of an anonymous donor looking to help boost the town's economy. The donor wanted to buy and give away 100 $50 gift cards for the Hometown Market and West Side Bar and Grille, but Lillie offered a suggestion. A new restaurant had just opened up in town, Trostel's Broken Branch, and he was hoping they could be part of the deal. The donor agreed, and then stunned Lillie when they offered to purchase 549 $50 gift cards from each business. This meant every household in Earlham would receive $150 worth of gift cards, and the businesses would each make more than $27,000. "Financially, it's one of the biggest things that's ever happened to this small town," Lillie told the Des Moines Register. [The Des Moines Register]


With courtrooms closed, family finds a different way to make adoption official

It wasn't the adoption ceremony they planned, but in the end, the only thing that mattered was Dominic became an official member of the Parsons family. Before courthouses were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Tania and Christopher Parsons were planning a special day for Dominic, 7. They adopted their 13-year-old daughter Angel in 2017, and it was clear how much she "loved her special day and how memorable it was," Tania told ABC News. They wanted the same thing for Dominic, but plans had to change when the coronavirus hit. Instead of holding the ceremony in a courtroom, Judge John Cherry called the Parsons at their Pennsylvania home, and officiated the formal adoption over the phone. Cherry told Tania and Christopher they are "two angels" who will "guarantee a life of happiness and love for this child." [ABC News]


Wisconsin first responders hold birthday parade for kids celebrating inside

With their lights flashing and sirens blaring, fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars made their way through the streets of Osseo, Wisconsin, on Saturday, putting on a parade for kids celebrating their birthdays inside while in quarantine. First responders with the Osseo Rural Fire Department, Trempealeau County Sheriff's Department, Osseo Police Department, and Mayo Clinic all participated. Firefighter Chris Cuddy told WQOW that being in quarantine is "very hard on the children. They can't go to school to see their friends. They're having these birthday parties with just what they have at home, and their friends aren't able to come. Maybe what we're doing today will bring some joy to them, make them a little bit happy on their birthday." This wasn't a one-time only event — parents can request birthday parades for their children through the Osseo Rural Fire Department. [WQOW]


Koalas rescued during last year's Australian bushfires released back into the wild

They've made full recoveries, and now it's time for koalas rescued during last year's devastating Australian bushfires to go back into the wild. Science for Wildlife, a conservation organization in Sydney, released the first 12 koalas back into the Blue Mountains on March 25 and 27. Those koalas were saved in December and spent the last few months recovering at Sydney's Taronga Zoo. Dr. Kellie Leigh, Science for Wildlife's executive director, said her team first had to make sure conditions had improved enough to sustain the koalas. "The recent rains have helped and there is now plenty of new growth for them to eat, so the time is right," Leigh added. "We will be radio-tracking them and keeping a close eye on them to make sure that they settle in okay." Port Macquarie Koala Hospital is also slowly releasing koalas, with president Sue Ashton telling The Independent that in some cases, they will be returned "to their original tree." [The Independent]